What Google does when people don’t engage

by | Dec 6, 2019

One of the first recommendations I make to help people get more emails into the inbox is to only send emails to the people on their list who have opened something recently. 

The main reason is that the Big Three mailbox providers (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) favour senders who proactively manage their engagement and remove people from their lists who haven’t opened anything in a while.

Some clients are willing to take my advice, but others aren’t so happy. 

In most cases, there’s still a “fear of loss”. That deep-rooted belief that, just because someone was interested 6 months ago, they might re-engage one day and suddenly buy something. 

And, to be fair, they might. But Google doesn’t think so, and here’s a couple of examples of what Google does when they realise that someone has stopped opening a particular sender’s emails.

(I had a little chuckle at the automation fail at the bottom of the second example. I’ve blurred out the sender’s name to protect the innocent, we’ve all been there, myself included!)

What these screenshots are clearly showing (one is from my own Gmail app on my iPhone, the other is from someone else’s Gmail app on their Android phone) is that Google is placing more and more importance on whether or not emails are being opened rather than being ignored.

From their perspective, they don’t want to waste processing time and storage space handling emails that are never going to get opened. And they’re keen to give their users the best possible experience, and the way they can do that is by showing them the messages that they’re actually going to want to open.

So it makes sense that they’re going to encourage people to unsubscribe if they’ve lost interest in mails from a particular sender.

Google originally rolled this feature out in “Inbox”, their mobile-only app which finally closed down earlier in 2019. It was only a matter of time before they added the same behaviour to their standard Gmail app.

Although your initial reaction might be negative, Google are really doing you a favour. 

Firstly, they’re confirming that they want people to keep their lists clean by being more proactive and asking individual users to unsubscribe. 

Secondly, for the people who don’t proactively manage their engagement (that’s not you, is it?), they’re doing them a favour by helping the disengaged contacts from removing themselves.

What does this really mean though?

Well, it reinforces the need to proactively manage the engagement of your audience. Stop sending them anything after they’ve disengaged for three months. And you might want to put your unengaged contacts through a re-engagement campaign sooner, maybe after 30 days.

P.S. If you’d like a quick and easy way of automating your engagement management, check out Deliverability Defender

Its Easy Engagement Management feature runs every night and makes sure that every contact in your database has an accurate and up-to-date tag showing you how recently they engaged. You can then use that to send broadcasts only to engaged contacts; automatically remove unengaged contacts from campaigns and automatically add unengaged contacts to a re-engagement campaign.

To see how else Deliverability Defender can help you win the Race to the Inbox, check it out here.